Friday, June 10, 2005

We Don't Just Disassemble, We Disassemble Systematically

On June 7 of this year, the NYT reported that a White House official had edited scientific reports on global climate change, with the effect of presenting a misleadingly exaggerated impression of the degree of confidence that the authors had in their findings.  In other words, he lied.  Evidently, he was trained to disassemble when was a lobbyist with the American Petroleum Institute.

When journalists wanted to contact the official for comment, they were rebuffed:
A White House spokeswoman, Michele St. Martin, said today that Mr. Cooney would not be made available to comment. "We don't put Phil Cooney on the record," she said. "He's not a cleared spokesman."
Perhaps he wasn't trained to disassemble in public; he likes to do his dirty work in private.

On June 8, we saw more specifics of the art of disassembling:
In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.

The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties," tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust.
For once, the paper grabs onto this like a bulldog.  Perhaps they were ashamed of their miserably deficient handling of the Downing Street Memo.

On June 9, they amplified their reports with an editorialon the subject.  They adroitly referred to the editing as "handiwork."  They went to point out that "this is hardly the first time this administration has tinkered with the truth."  Indeed.  The Union of Concerned Scientists has been pointing this out for years.  (They also have gift matching program running now, so donations made up until July 15 will be doubled.)  They then conclude that "It's sad to think of a White House run be people who believe that a problem can be edited out of existence."

It is sad, I suppose, unless you believe that it is the proper role of the US Government to use taxpayer money to create a target-rich environment for the very industries that used to employ the President and the Vice-President.  
The petroleum industry is already making record-high profits, meanwhile burdening the people and the economy by charging record-high prices.  Do they really think that they need to lie to the citizenry for the Industry to make even more money???

The kicker: when asked to explain this, White House spokesman Scott McClellan informed us, helpfully, I guess, that such revisions are part of the normal review process.  He pointed out that all the reports were approved.  He did not deny that they were full of lies.  Apparently, we're supposed to understand that lies are part of the normal process in the White House.